TGW solves its customers’ supply chain challenges with highly automated, efficient and future-proof intralogistics systems. Every day, the vision of the autonomous fulfilment centre gives us a renewed sense of motivation to give our best. In our core markets of Fashion & Apparel, Grocery and Industrial & Consumer Goods, we build on strong partnerships that include everything from planning to implementation to lifetime services. In the 2018/2019 business year, TGW generated a total turnover of 720 million euros.
David Hibbert, CEO of TGW Northern Europe spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Can you briefly describe what your company does?
Since its establishment in 1969, TGW has evolved from a small fitter’s shop into a leading international system integrator. TGW plans and implements highly automated, efficient and future-proof fulfilment centres around the world, solving customer’s supply chain challenges along the way. TGW builds on strong partnerships at every stage, from planning to implementation to Lifetime Services.
In January 2007, TGW opened an entity in Market Harborough, in the centre of the UK. TGW Limited started business with a small team of five people. Due to rapid growth, it soon became necessary to find larger premises. In 2014 TGW Limited moved to a ‘custom-designed’ building called Falcon Court. The front of the building includes a fully operational Mustang Evolution miniload that not only enhances the visitor experience but is used to store site and safety equipment for engineers. In 2016, TGW Limited acquired a second building (Hawk House) a mere stone’s throw from Falcon Court.
In addition to experienced Sales & Realisation teams, TGW Limited also has a strong Lifetime Service team. This team of engineers and technicians is available 24/7 to provide customers with the necessary support when and where needed, via a hotline service or local intervention. TGW Limited also boasts a significant number of on-site, residential engineers. The ambitions remain high as TGW Limited strives to continue to grow for many more years to come. Now part of the Northern European HUB together with TGW Systems BV in the Benelux, TGW Scandinavia AB in Sweden and TGW Limited in Lithuania, the workforce totals approximately 440.
Which industries do your customers operate in?
Our core industries are Fashion & Apparel, Grocery and Industrial & Consumer Goods.
How has business fared in 2020 compared to previous years?
We will publish our latest financial results (FY 2019/2020) at the end of September.
Business in TGW Northern Europe remains strong and as a Group, TGW continues to grow year on year.
What have been the biggest challenges TGW has faced this year?
In these unpredictable times, TGW was doing everything it could to keep existing warehouses and distribution facilities fully operational. We adapted our maintenance programs to our client’s specific needs, not least where their products were considered as “essential” for our communities.
TGW did its utmost best to ensure the construction of new sites continued as normal. Of course only where governmental guidelines permitted and where the health, safety and well-being of our client’s personnel and our employees was not compromised.
How did the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown affect your business?
TGW notices similar differences between customers and countries, depending on the restrictions within the country and the restrictions companies impose on their organisation. Immediately after the outbreak, TGW set up task forces to give instructions to maintenance teams and other colleagues in the field. In order to avoid contact as much as possible, TGW provided remote support to customers and employees via a hotline. TGW had to shut down projects in various countries because DCs were closed due to restrictions of local governments. Projects in TGW Northern HUB were not significantly affected and could be continued where the necessary precautions were adopted to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Have you had to install social distancing measures within your workplace?
Throughout TGW we have taken the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, sub-contractors and client’s employees. For each entity, we have followed the rules and regulations of the local government.
What was your greatest challenge in the corona crisis?
We were able to work on most of our international sites even during the shutdown. Our production facilities were also running at high capacity throughout, thanks to a well-functioning supply chain. Our service teams were on duty all over the world: this was particularly important in food production and food trade sectors to ensure a smooth supply.
Like all export-oriented companies, TGW was and is affected by travel restrictions and border closures, which complicate planning and project management. However, thanks to the commitment of our more than 3,700 employees worldwide TGW coped with the situation very well.
How did you react and what were the lessons learned?
We installed a “Corona Task Force” in February and reinforced it immediately after the shutdown. This Task Force assessed the situation daily and derived appropriate measures for our production, realisation or Lifetime Services. Besides, we have changed and adapted processes. In our opinion, it is important not to see the crisis only as a threat. The pandemic also offers the opportunity to identify new opportunities and act accordingly. To this end, we have developed, evaluated and prioritised measures in overarching “opportunity workshops”.
What exactly will change in your company after the corona crisis?
Corona has led to changes in our processes and procedures. For example, we have a very positive experience of working in the home office and we will maintain or expand this concept.
In what areas are you making technological advances?
•The TGW Digital Service Platform – Digital Twin
It’s the interface between the heterogeneous data sources of a distribution centre and all of its users. The platform prepares and presents data as needed and thus enables to make full use of the existing data. The machine learning algorithms allow to draw entirely new insights. For example, the “digital twin” service can be used to discover potential improvements in the order structure.
•Energy-efficiency – reducing energy consumption
•Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in intralogistics
•Ergonomic work environment
What training do you provide for your staff?
We have our own TGW Academy with extensive global training & development possibilities for our employees from various specialist departments. The training courses held around the globe enable to network with colleagues and advance together. In addition, we also offer local training opportunities internally, on site and externally.
What is the company’s commitment to social responsibility?
The combination of business success and appreciative interactions plays a central role at TGW. Our value system is the basis for how we interact with each other and for our continued success in the future. The consistent implementation of our corporate culture and values is a form of securing our future and expressing our exemplary entrepreneurship.
In 2004, Ludwig Szinicz converted TGW into a foundation-owned company and combined this action with a clear assignment. “TGW is not a purely economic partnership of convenience. It is a community of shared values that is driven by a purpose and follows the mission of its foundation. This community enables personal and technical growth as well as entrepreneurial success.” It was a substantial concern of TGW’s co-founder to combine economic success and appreciative cooperation.
The TGW Future Private Foundation is the owner of TGW. Szinicz bequeathed all shares in TGW to the foundation, thus securing the future of the company for the long term – fully in line with the slogan “Focusing on people – learning and growing”. TGW cannot be sold and is a stable financial partner and reliable employer. The majority of profits stay in the company and are reinvested – in our employees and the technologies of tomorrow. In addition, ten percent of profits go to charitable Future Wings projects.